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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: Praise To the Lord, the Almighty

I love this song. I love the truth of the lyrics, and the way it points to God's character over and over. These things have been absolutely true in my life.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
The King of creation
O my soul, praise Him
For He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wonderfully reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea, so gladly sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord
Who doth prosper they work and defend thee.
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee!

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him.
All that hath life and breath
Come now with praises before Him!
Let the 'amen' sound from His people again.
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

I am particularly fond of verse 2, because it's so true-- the adventures He has in store for us are better than the ones we can "dream" up. God reigns over all things, and His plans for us (even when difficult) are ultimately for His glory & our good! Hope you're having a great weekend.

How to Make Passion Flower Tea

Passion flower (Passiflora incarnate) is a very effective sleep aid. You can make a soothing, sedative passion flower tea in just a few minutes. You’ll be surprised at how well it works.

It can cause a different reactions in different people, but for me, it's a great mind and body relaxer.  I fall asleep more easily and am more likely to sleep through the night if I make an evening cup of

Thursday, July 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday - #22

Let's jump right in:
  1. America is just go-go-go all the time, isn't it? I'm exhausted!

  2. A couple weeks ago, I read the passage about the centurion approaching Jesus on behalf of his "suffering, paralyzed servant", and just got stuck on that description... doesn't that sometimes describe the Christian life? We are servants of Him, and of others... and yet we can get stuck and even feel unable to move. I was so encouraged by Jesus' response: "I will come and heal him." Jesus stands ready to work in our lives if we will ask. He has done such a transformation in my attitude over the past couple months, when I felt that I was deep in a spiritual "rut". If you're suffering, or feeling paralyzed emotionally, Jesus is the Healer & I want to encourage you to trust Him to work in your heart. He still heals those in need.

  3. Beginning next week, I'll be taking an online class called "Dynamics of Biblical Change", basically about how Christians are transformed, how we change. I'm considering pursuing a Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy, and am going to use this class as a small litmus test for myself, to see if this is really an area that I want to devote time and mental energy in coming years.

  4. Just heard this recently-- Duke University did a study on sleep, and determined that the best sleep environment is (no surprise here) dark, quiet, and has a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. And on average, human beings need between 7 & 3/4 hours and 8 & 1/4 hours of sleep per night. So how are you doing on all of that? Ours is dark, quiet, and (while in America) stays at around 70-75 degrees...65-70 in the winter... and I probably get 6-7 hours of sleep a night, by choice. For example, it's currently 12:23 am and the kids have been asleep since 8:30 or so. I could've gone to bed hours ago, and according to Duke, I should've. :-/

  5. Do you spend time thinking about how God is working in and around you? I'm becoming convinced that this is a significant area of my life that I forget to check in on regularly. Jesus made it a point to tell us that He only did whatever the Father was already doing. (John 5:19) How much more, then, should we be actively in tune with the world around us, and our hearts inside of us-- looking at what God is doing? I think many things would change in our home, in our kids' lives, in my life, and in my relationships if I tried to sharpen my focus onto what the Father is doing around me. What about you? Is this something you consider regularly?

  6. Heard this from a friend and thought you might like it:
    "A screwdriver can be used to scrape gunk off a hard surface, or to pry open a paint can lid, but what it was really made to do is to turn that screw."
    What did God make you for? There are times when we have to buck up and do what we *can* do, sometimes persevering through tough circumstances and buckling down with endurance to do what needs doing. But we shouldn't lose sight of the big picture of God each of us as creating unique people; He created you and me to reflect His glory in special ways. Take time to nurture that inner part and honor Him with the beauty He's put in you!

  7. I really treasured the opportunity to visit Covenant Life church, and thought this point from Josh Harris' sermon was particularly encouraging:
    "Showing love (defined as intentionally pursuing the good of other people) to others is a commandment of God-- first in the Old Testament, then reaffirmed by Jesus in the New Testament as one of the greatest commandments. When times are uncertain (for example, when there are disagreements between believers, or when there are doctrinal disputes), we can RELY on what IS certain-- what God has clearly commanded: love one another."

Well, can ya tell I just did a journal dump of what I've been taking notes on over the past month or so? :) Lots of good stuff, though... stuff that has been encouraging to me, and I hope will encourage you. Have a great weekend.

Southern Entry

Welcome to the south entry to our house! It is the second entry, which is more casual than 
the one on the west side

I found the antique hat rack years ago in an antique store. I hadn't been looking for one but the shape was so beautiful and the price so affordable ($45), that I knew I'd find a use for it. 

 Mike's tattered and stained work hat is shown, but we also hang our coats here from time to time. Mostly when we're too lazy to walk into the living room and hang them in the coat 
closet - which is often.

I've always loved this lantern, but it has spent most of its time on a shelf in our downstairs den closet. Though we rarely use it, it's not in the way and I like being able to look at it everyday. 

Below the hat rack, we have a stool to sit on while putting on our shoes. We also use the stool to get things off the kitchen shelves, or any other task that requires a high reach in this area of the house. 

On the wall next to the hat rack is one of my Great Great Grandmother's mirrors. Originally part of the tall dresser in our master bedroom, we've used it here because it does not fit beneath the sloping ceiling upstairs. 

Entering the hallway from the entry, the french doors on the left open into the dining room. On the right is the door that goes upstairs. 

Because there are two entries to the house, we decided to connect them in a more aesthetically pleasing way with a wraparound porch. In this way, both entrances are accessible, depending on the occasion (formal or casual). 

Thoughts On My Gardens Here

We moved here in late June of 2007 coming from a beautiful, formal garden with a greenhouse.  I had built that garden from nothing so it was a real accomplishment.  This house from the start was a huge challenge to say the least.  We spent the first summer hauling out over six truck loads of overgrown brush.  We raised the canopies on the maples so we could actually see the beautiful view of the

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


HibiscusJuly 25, 2011
I really have a rubber arm when it comes to plants.  I was in WalMart (Canada) a couple of days ago when a plant sale caught my eye.  Three foot tall hibiscus were on sale for $5.  Now that is a wonderful price so I bought two.  I wanted them as container plants on each side of our front door.  Since our house is on the market I have been focusing on container gardening

Planks or Drywall

wood panel walls1image here

We are at the point of deciding what to do with our walls in the new living and dining room. 

wood panel walls 3image here

As the original plank boards are going back up, I’m having second thoughts about them! 

wood panel walls 2image here

You see how in these pictures the plank boards are clearly separated with spaces? 

paneling1image here

Clean and neat.  Straight and spiffy. 

wood panel walls 7image here

Ours aren’t like that.  Our boards are so old and uneven, there is no way to get a clear line of distinction between each one.   Ours would look more like this:

wood panel walls 6
image here

And this:

wood panel walls 4
image here

And this:


Flawed.  Casual.  In a summer camp/cottage sort of way. 

wood panel walls 5
image here

Drywall is whispering in my ear, tempting me with it’s promise of a smooth clean surface and illusion of perfection. 

wood panel walls 8
image here

But our old sweet battered farmhouse is whispering in the other ear, begging for authenticity and freedom to be imperfect.   

Planks or drywall?  What would you choose?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Hello everyone! I hope that you are having a great week so far!
Last week, I shared how I made smoothies and this week and I wanted to share how I make smoothie-pops!  I just made up that name but basically, I make popsicles with leftover smoothie.
I bought these popsicle makers from Bed Bath and Beyond.
2011 06 26_5882
When we have leftover smoothie,  I just fill these up.
2011 07 26_6889smoothie pops
The kids love them! Smile
2011 07 26_6919
michael collage
They make a great healthy, afternoon snacks! Smile
Have you ever made these?
We also make performance-pops!
Have a great day!


When I closed my shop in 2008 I started having HOME SALES about once a quarter. I started out having them in the GARDEN COTTAGE but now I have them in my driveway because it's in close proximity to my trailer and I usually do the sales by myself. In the past I have kept this event to invitation only, using my email list from my shop. I have decided to post the sale here on my blog so that if you are in the central Florida area but are not on my email list you can attend. Contact me via email for the address.

I am having a 50% off sale on many vintage and antique items!! I hope you can attend!





Sorry I can't post my address here so please email me at

for the location of the sale.

Hope to see you!!!

How to Revive Wilted Greens and Herbs

If you've ever opened your refrigerator's vegetable crisper only to discover that "crisp" is a relative term, you can understand the value of being able to do a little quick first aid on your limp cilantro, parsley or dill. Even better, these strategies can also work on veggies like lettuce and celery.

Reviving Wilted Greens and Herbs

Vegetables have stems and veins designed to deliver moisture

Deciding to Stay Home, Part Five

This is part five of a five-part series about how I went from working gal to stay-home-mom, back in 2002. You can read the other parts by clicking: PART ONE, PART TWO, PART THREE, PART FOUR. (The pictures in this post are current pictures of our family, because I have virtually no pictures from 2002 in digital format.)

As I began sharing last time, when we made the decision for me to be home with our baby, it wasn't because we were in great financial shape, or because my husband had a plum job & we could afford it. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We had student loans aplenty, and had just racked up more than $17,000 in medical debts because our son spent his first week in a NICU that didn't accept our insurance. We moved back to Texas to be near family, but had no job, no insurance, and had saved just enough money to get through a couple weeks (at best).

Everything rested on my husband's ability to pound the pavement and our God's ability to provide.

Doug applied at a wide variety of places, dropping his resume at virtually every place that would accept it, and filling out applications anywhere that he was able to do the work (i.e., from Home Depot to the Dallas Museum of Art). After a week or two, Doug got a call and was hired to work at Kohl's, the department store. He made a slightly more than minimum wage, and received a discount in their stores. We grocery shopped carefully, almost never ate out, lived in a one-bedroom apartment, made it work with one car & one cell phone (no landline), and used his discount to get nicer clothes for him for future interviews. If memory serves, he worked at Kohl's for 2-3 months.

A friend of ours at church told us about a mortgage company in the metroplex that was often looking for people for their bankruptcy department, and so Doug went through the process there and was hired. He worked hard, going in early (he would often leave at 5am to get a jumpstart on the workday and avoid traffic), and we were so thankful that he had a job, with an adequate salary (though I know some people think it's tacky to talk about money, I don't particularly care about "tacky"... I'm writing this story to encourage other families out there with our story, to give you hope that you can "do it", too, if you sense God's leading to stay home). He made $30,000 plus benefits.

We were thankful for his job, and it gave us enough as a young family. We didn't expect to have a designer house, and Ethan almost entirely wore clothes and used baby things that we were given or that we'd gotten at thrift stores. I didn't update my wardrobe, and didn't have a dishwasher or a 2nd car (so I literally "stayed home")... but despite lacking these external things that our society tells us we "need", we were so happy! I was so glad to be with this little person who was fascinated by everything and was, himself, so fascinating. Our new son & I spent our days together, friends came over to see us from time to time, and I tried my hand at cooking more than I had in our pre-baby days, with varying degrees of success. I still think back on those early days and am so glad we sacrificed so that Ethan and I could be together.

It's not a popular thing to say, but it is true-- in our very wealthy nation of America, it is almost always possible for a woman to stay home with her baby if she wants to. If you don't want to, that's your decision. But for those who do want to stay home, and are wondering if you can do it, or thinking that it's impossible, I want to encourage you that it is possible. Like we did, you might need to move to a less expensive city. You may not have "luxury" items, or even what other people expect as "normal". Like mine did, your husband may have to take a job (or jobs) that are outside his area of expertise. But you can make it work, and in the long run, you won't regret making hard choices, or even sacrificing, in order to enjoy these special moments with your baby, and give him a loving, stable, and connected start in life.

From one mom who's been there, you CAN stay home if you want to, and it is so precious to share those days together with the new little person God has put in your family.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Taste of Summer!

I love Lavender, it just screams "summer" and I thought it was time to do a spot of baking with some I picked from my mum's garden - she has absolutely loads so I think the bees will forgive me for cutting just a small amount for my recipe, plus a bit extra for a vase too!

These biscuits are super easy to make and so I thought I'd share the recipe with you...

300g / 10oz butter

180g / 7oz caster sugar

450g / 1lb plain flour

2 egg yolks

about 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped lavender leaves

about 1 tablespoon of lavender flowers

drop of milk (if required)

You could always halve the quantity - as you can see, this makes quite a lot - depending on what size cutters you use! I couldn't resist making heart shaped biscuits!
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add your lavender leaves, most of the flowers and your flour and egg yolks and mix well. Knead your mixture into a soft dough and, if necessary, add a drop of milk to get a nice smooth ball. I then popped it in the fridge for half an hour before rolling out to my desired biscuit thickness, about 1/2 cm. Cut your biscuits out using your biscuit cutters and place on a greased baking tray. You can press extra lavender flowers into the top of each biscuit if you like. Bake in the oven at 160 o centrigrade / 320F for about 15-20 mins, or until firm.
Leave to cool in the trays for a few minutes to firm up before using a palette knife to remove and place on wire cooling trays.

Then settle down with a nice cuppa to enjoy a little taste of summer!
The biscuits keep really well but if you make enough, why not share them with friends -they look really pretty presented in a clear cellophane bag and tied with ribbon and a parcel tag.

Jacqui x

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Get Yourself Dressed!": Growing More Mature as a Believer

This morning, I was getting Moses into his little shirt (he turned 1 recently) and I noticed that he was actively striving to help put his arms in... a new development! It's so fun, isn't it?, the way our children start out so helpless and over time, take on more and more responsibility for themselves. It'll be awhile, though, before I have to remind him, when he comes to the living room in his big-boy-underwear, "go get yourself dressed!"

And there are parallels of this for us, in the Christian life. Last week, I had the opportunity to head outside our four walls for a quiet hour... an opportunity to practice the discipline of solitude and prayer. After I did, I realized how infrequently I've set aside time to really be silent before the Lord, just listening, still, knowing that He is God.

If I'm going to grow spiritually, if I'm going to mature, I've got to start owning my own actions, and reach out for what I need. "Dressing myself", so to speak, like Moses is beginning to try to do.

I'm learning more about going deeper in my spiritual walk, and I know part of it is just me exercising the spiritual disciplines that have nurtured and sustained the faith of Christians for centuries.We evangelicals do a fair job carrying out the outward things... giving charitably, gathering as a community of Saints to worship together each Sunday, studying our Bibles, and such. We do not typically do so well at the inward disciplines-- prayer, solitude, fasting, meditating on memorized Scripture, and the like. I want to grow in this area, and I'm considering how to take those steps.

But I'm writing now as a way of setting up a stone of remembrance, like the children of Israel often did, that God has brought me thus far. Like the priests, I feel like I'm walking down to the river. Like God is drawing me into a new place in my relationship with Him. I really don't know how God will teach me to have God-confidence, and not revert back to that self-confidence I've come to rely on these many decades... but I trust that He will show me.

Maybe He's asking something similar of you? I don't know... but this has all come about in my heart since starting to write again, and so if you want to go deeper too, I'd love to hear from you and walk with you. No pressure, but if you're interested, please leave a comment & let's discuss these things more.


Veganism... No food of animal origin. No meat. No dairy. No butter.

NO CHEESE... Oh, how I miss cheese...

How did I get here? It's a strongly personal choice.

I grew up in small town Indiana. Not exactly a mecca for those who shun all things of animal origin.

I ate meat... I ate gravy. I ate whatever we had for dinner that night.

Fast forward to my early twenties. I had two children under four. I became vegetarian. Not the same thing as vegan, just no meat. I shunned all white flour, all sugar. I ran 5 miles a day religiously. I taught aerobics at Elaine Powers. Remember Elaine Powers? The days of headbands and leg warmers.

Was my family vegetarian? No. Is my family vegan now?

NO. I am married to the ultimate meatatarian. He smokes, he grills. When I make a meal for my family, I make their food and I make mine. In no way similar. Is this easy? No. Will hubs occasionally eat vegan fare? Yes. Do I force my choice on them? Heck no.

I eat a vegan diet because I have never cared much for meat and so I don't miss it. I also eat a vegan diet because it is the single thing that has made the most significant impact on my health.

I don't run 5 miles a day anymore, but I do walk 3 miles a day 5 to 6 times a week. I am 52 and at 126 pounds I weigh less than I have in a long long time. I was at 143 a couple of years ago and at 5'3" I was looking a little chubby. I felt bloated and miserable. Once I cleaned up my way of eating I saw an unbelievable change in how I felt.

Don't get me wrong. Eating vegan is work. I read every label of every food I consider eating. You would be shocked at the things they put in food these days. Do I feel deprived? In no way.

Will I ever go back? No. I feel good about this decision and if any of you are curious I encourage you to check it out. Flirt with it a little.

I'd like to share two vegan blogs with you that I love. Both are sources for fabulous recipes and fresh viewpoints on ways to eat a little more healthy. You'll be so surprised at how much delicious food vegans can eat.

Here's to health and happiness!

Christmas in July

Country Living magazine was here for a photo shoot! The shoot was for their upcoming December issue. In the lazy days of mid-summer, we enjoyed everything Christmas -  

Wreaths, and 
Christmas cookies.

We even had a visit from a few of Santa's helpers (they enjoyed my roses). 

I have subscribed to Country Living for years. Some of my favorite images have come from their pages, as Country Living's aesthetics and sensibility have really resonated with me. 

Deputy Style Editor Lili Diallo contacted me last December with interest to include our home in the magazine. Needless to say, I was thrilled and honored. A winter or spring shoot wasn't possible as we had our hands full after the birth of our two sweet babies - so Christmas in July it was. 

Lili is an incredibly insightful and talented stylist, and so much fun! She also happens to be the author of the beautiful and inspiring design book titled, Details. 

Here are a few behind-the-scenes glimpses from our week! 

On Sunday, we ventured out to cut three Noble fir Christmas trees. The trees, strapped to the top of our car on a July morning, were a perplexing sight to many as we made our way home from the tree farm. 

Packages started to arrive on Tuesday, the day Lili arrived from New York. Wednesday evening brought the photographers and their gear. 

We learned a lot about the meticulous detail that goes into capturing magazine-worthy images. Screens were placed outside the nursery windows to filter light. 

Here's the crew in action! Photographer Max Kim-Bee (a selection of his gorgeous photography can also be found under the 'photographers' link at this site) with assistant Kevin Kerr, Lili, and Design Director Sheri Geller, who flew in for Friday. They're working on a shot in the living room. 

It was so much fun having them here. Max even helped out with some dish washing! Kevin and Sheri, with children of their own, held babies at just the right times. Kevin also gave us a few very welcome photography pointers!

Here are Sheri, Lili and Max discussing angles for the dining room. 

During the week, there was also some napping... 

...and some team napping. 

Mike, my mom, and Graham took a break before lunch, for which we moved the patio table and chairs into the shade under the porch. I'll do a post on our new patio table and chairs soon! 

And here's everyone - Kevin, Sheri, Graham and my Mom, Margaret and me, Max, and Lili. We had mild weather for July, with mostly cloudy skies and a slight breeze. This unseasonal weather worked quite well to help get us in the mood for a cozy Christmas. 

This is a familiar sighting around our house - Kangaroo Daddy.  

At one point, Kevin and Mike moved the Christmas tree. 

Here's Sheri holding Graham. He loved her curls. 

The Country Living crew arrived in red rental cars... pure coincidence but festive nonetheless. The screen shown above was used to control the light for the dining room shots.

On Friday evening, it was time to pack up the Christmas decorations that had been sent out from       New York for the shoot. 

Meanwhile, the boys chatted at the end of the day. 

Having the Country Living crew here was wonderful. We really enjoyed the first-hand insight into the details, hard work, talent, and collaboration that create gorgeous images for publication. It was absolutely fascinating and everything they did was simply beautiful. 

We also especially enjoyed getting to know four lovely, inspiring people...who Mike and I consider new found friends. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Is Lemon Balm

For such a wonderful and popular herb, it's surprising more people don’t know about lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). I recently blogged about making lemon balm liquor and received a puzzling number of emails from people who wondered what lemon balm is and what makes it a keeper in the garden.

I forget sometimes that there are lots of folks around who do their herb shopping in the produce

Friday, July 22, 2011

Favorite Things

downy spray

I hardly ever iron.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it because I actually do.  But there are only 24 hours in a day, and I’ve found a faster way.  It’s called Downy Wrinkle Releaser.  You can find it in the laundry cleaning section at Target and Walmart and online.

It surprises me how many people I’ve met who haven’t heard of it, so I make it my duty to enlighten them…. and now, you!  The secret to an iron free life is to unload the dryer immediately, fold the clothes or hang.  Then on the day you pull out your favorite ensemble, simply spray any remaining wrinkles, and smooth out with your hand. 

Or you could do it my way and spray after the clothes are on.  I’ve been known to line the kids up before church on Sunday and spray them down.  Does that qualify me for the bad mom award?  Probably, but hey, they look good and we’re making memories. 

downy spray 4Eva, just sprayed.

The spray comes out in a fine mist and doesn’t saturate the fabric.  It’s excellent for around the house too.  In fact, I didn’t iron the curtains in my latest project:


I just sprayed them once they were up.  It works!  I also use it for bedding… sheets, duvet cover, bed skirts.  It’s great for traveling too!  Just pour into a small spray bottle, and it can tag along in your luggage.  My friend says that I could probably make my own using fabric softener and water.  She might be right, but I haven’t attempted it yet.  Until then, this is definitely one of my favorite things.

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